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NFUS Stunned at Further Pirbright Foot and Mouth Virus Failure
23/11/07

A probable further leak of foot and mouth virus into the drainage system at Pirbright on Monday, barely two weeks after Defra and the Health and Safety Executive had apparently given the site a clean bill of health, beggars belief according to NFU Scotland.

NFUS President
Jim McLaren
NFUS President  Jim McLaren

Secretary of State Hilary Benn has said the virus has not escaped from the site because the controls surrounding the drainage system had worked effectively. Whilst drawing some comfort that additional biosecurity controls have prevented a release into the environment this time round, NFUS has said that many farmers will once again be questioning the competence of Defra, its agencies and the companies working on the site.

NFUS President Jim McLaren said:

“The only good thing about this news is the confirmation that the additional biosecurity controls in place have prevented this leak into a drain turning into an escape of virus from the site, but otherwise it really beggars belief. Pirbright is once more shut down, again the result of an inability to properly handle dangerous virus. It was bad enough the first time round, but for it to happen again, just a fortnight after regaining the licence to work with FMD virus, is inexcusable.

“The fact that this time round, the biosecurity controls didn’t completely break down will be little consolation to Scottish farmers who are still reeling from the effects of the first leak and who were given assurances by Defra just 16 days ago that Pirbirght was up to the job - assurances that were clearly wide of the mark.

“Shutting down the site is clearly the right move until it can be worked out what an earth is happening at Pirbright. However, the irony of this latest debacle is that the industry desperately requires a vaccine to halt the spread of bluetongue, yet Pirbright, where vaccine is developed, is now shut down again adding to the potential damage this ongoing incompetence could cause.

“It was clear enough to us four months ago that Government has responsibility for the consequences of failures on the sites it licenses. That has come into even starker focus today. The case for compensation for the financial disaster unleashed in recent months is unarguable. Instead, all we have had is Hilary Benn talking about industry having to share the cost of disease outbreaks in future. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious.”

link Abattoir Study Highlights the Need for Cattle Lung Protection Therapy
link NFUS Urges Farmer and Public Vigilance for Avian Flu
link Farmers Offered Financial Help To Investigate Causes of Cattle Abortions

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NFU Scotland